One after another, the pundits hailed this first joint address to Congress as Donald Trump’s finest speech, though the usual naysayers were quick to add snarkily that it was his only good speech, yuk-yuk. Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume, a serious analyst with, by his count, some 40 of these speeches under his belt, called Tuesday night’s State of the Union address one of the most riveting and unforgettable speeches he’s ever heard. Hume said the general consensus was Trump “hit it out of the park.”
We agree. We wish only that he’d given this speech in Cleveland, accepting the GOP nomination and that he’d made it his stump speech thereafter. We are absolutely convinced that had he done so, he would have demolished Hillary. What enraged his critics (and dismayed so many of his supporters too) was the constant, and boorish showmanship. Take that out of the equation and millions would have come to his camp.
One will be hard-pressed to tell Donald Trump that he doesn’t know how to address an audience. He will remind you that he has the word “President” in front of his name, while 16 other Republicans and one prominent Democrat at best can be called “Former candidate.” But there’s a world of difference between rhetoric designed to fuel a political rally and a presidential address to the nation, and to the world.
Suddenly all the Trumpian silliness was gone. The theme was visionary, the tone positive, and in the greatest change of direction, especially after eight long years of Obama narcissism, there was true humility. We heard him use the first person singular only once (at the DNC Convention, Obama referred to himself 119 times). Instead it was America. It was We. It was Reagan.
The speech was reminiscent of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Democratic Convention speech. This was a man who rained left-wing hellfire on the world, angrily attacking everything in sight including, it turns out, Jews, who he’d called “Hymies” living in “Hymietown.” Months later, at the convention, all eyes were on him, and he threw everyone an unexpected curveball.
“If, in my low moments, in word, deed or attitude, through some error of temper, taste, or tone, I have caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived someone's fears, that was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart.... I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient: God is not finished with me yet.”
No, Trump didn’t go there, nor did he need to, but his speech succeeded every bit as much as Jackson’s, hailed as triumphant by friends and foes alike, when he needed it most.
Trump’s enemies will not congratulate him – ever. Pelosi sat on her hands, glowering all night. Many Democrats refused to shake his hand. Hollywood? Kathy Griffin called him an “idiot.” Speaking of which, Charlie Sheen called him a “simpleton, Ho-ass piglet fraud.” From George Takei: “Sorry, just had to get up to throw up.” Radical Leftie Twitterville was alive with the usual insults.
What did the public think? CBS’s poll found 76 percent of the public approved. Even 40 percent of Democrats at least somewhat approved; 18 percent strongly approved.
The speech redefined Trump. It underscored the radical ugliness of so many of his opponents. As Hume said, it was a home run.
Now, will he continue on this path, or go back?